Sister Stephanie Marie Kazmierczyk, MM

Born: April 22, 1926
Entered: September 6, 1947
Died: February 6, 2006

Today we are gathered to say good-bye to our beloved Sister Stephanie Marie Kazmierczyk who died in our Maryknoll Sisters Residential Care IV at Maryknoll, N.Y., on February 6, 2006. She was 79 years of age and a Maryknoll Sister for 58 years.

Stephanie Rosalia Kazmierczyk was born on April 22, 1926 in New Britain, Connecticut, one of six siblings, five girls and one boy, born to Adolf and Anna Zarotney Kazmierczyk. All of her immediate family have pre-deceased her. She attended Elihu Burritt and Nathan Hale Elementary Schools, after which she attended New Britain Senior High School but left after three years to work at Fafnir Bearing Company to help the family financially when her mother took sick. In 1945 she took an equivalency exam and acquired her diploma.

Stephanie entered the Maryknoll Sisters at the Venard, Clark Summit, PA on September 6, 1947. She made First Vows on March 7, 1950, receiving the religious name Sister Stephanie Marie, and three years later on the same day she made Final Profession of Vows. From 1949 to 1953 Sister attended Maryknoll Teachers College, earning a Bachelor of Education degree. She attended Chile’s Catholic University between 1961 and 1962 to certify her Bachelor of Education degree for that country.

The love felt for Sister Stephanie Marie was expressed by one of her Chilean companions, Sister Joan Ratterman, in the following words: “The Maryknoll Sisters were invited to Chile in 1950 to found parish schools for the poor. Stephanie arrived in 1953. After a short language school, she was assigned to San Juan de Dios Parish to teach in the school. She did this very effectively from 1954 to 1958. She was then named Superior and Principal of San Vicente School in Chillan. These were very happy years for Stephanie. She enjoyed the community of Maryknoll Fathers and Sisters and was a good Principal. In 1960 a devastating earthquake damaged the parish buildings. Sister Stephanie was a bulwark of strength at that time.

“She went to the 1964 Maryknoll Sisters Chapter as a delegate, and on returning to Chile was named Regional Superior and so moved to Santiago. This was a difficult change for Stephanie as she loved her days in Chillan, its small setting with a strong emphasis on family life and strong Christian values.

“Stephanie was Regional Superior from 1964 to 1970. This was a dfficult, turbulent time. The church in Chile was in the effervescence of the Second Vatican Council. The church leaders were very progressive and the Maryknoll Sisters arriving in Chile in those days were by and large young and inexperienced. Stephanie brought to this task her contemplative spirit, great trust in God, and a compassionate understanding heart. She had the great gift of being a good listener. She also had an unflagging loyalty to the Sisters, sometimes at a great personal cost to herself! She weathered that period with great courage and was loved by the Sisters.”

When Sister Stephanie Marie returned to the United States from Chile in 1971 she spent one year as a member of the Maryknoll Sisters Cloister, exploring her great love for the contemplative life. She remained in the United States and in the coming years alternated service at the Maryknoll Center and in the Eastern U.S. Region. At the Center she was a member of the Center Unit Board (1972-1975), worked in the Admissions Department (1980-1982), and in Rogers Library (1991-1996). Between 1975 and 1980 she did pastoral work among the Hispanic population in West Haven, CT, and during the years 1983 to 1991 she did pastoral work among Hispanics in Hartford, Connecticut.

Sister Stephanie Marie chose to retire to Monrovia in 1997 and remained there until 2000 when she returned to the Rogers community at Maryknoll. She loved the Center at Maryknoll which she felt held so many precious memories for her. As her health deteriorated she transferred to the Main House community in 2002 and then to the Eden community in 2003. During this period Sister Stephanie Marie had two prayer ministries: the Center Eden community and the Congregational Leadership Team. In this we recognize an added loss of Sister though we are confident that from her heavenly home she will always be interceding for the CLT and for the whole Maryknoll community that she loved so much.

We extend our sincere condolences to all of her family and friends and to the staff of Residential Care IV who so lovingly cared for Sister.

We are grateful to have with us Maryknoll Father Ernest Lukaschek, a Chilean missioner with Sister Stephanie Marie, who will preside at the Liturgy of Christian Burial.